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What is the word for the world view/attitude that "there is no meaning in life or meaning in anything, anything at all"?

I think the term starts with an e or something. I thought it was enigmatic or eglism or something but it's not.

The word isn't pessimistic. The word is more like a religion/belief than opinion

closed as off-topic by lbf, curiousdannii, Scott, JonMark Perry, Nigel J Jun 28 '18 at 12:43

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You said that you are seeking

that word for the worldview/attitude that there is no meaning in life or meaning in anything at all (...) I think the starts with e or something. thought it was enigmatic or eglism or something but it's not.

Existential nihilism is the exact term that conveys your meaning, though it is not a single word. The single words existentialism and nihilism also carry related and similar meaning for the general reader.

According to Wikipedia,

Existential nihilism is the philosophical theory that life has no intrinsic meaning or value (...) The inherent meaninglessness of life is largely explored in the philosophical school of existentialism (...) In the view of the existentialist, the individual's starting point is characterized by what has been called "the existential attitude", or a sense of disorientation, confusion, or dread in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world (...) The idea that meaning and values are without foundation is a form of nihilism (...) Nihilism is the philosophical viewpoint that suggests the denial or lack of belief towards the reputedly meaningful aspects of life (...)

Of all types of nihilism, existential nihilism has received the most literary and philosophical attention (...) The theory purports to describe the human situation to create a life outlook and create meaning, which has been summarized as, "Strut, fret, and delude ourselves as we may, our lives are of no significance, and it is futile to seek or to affirm meaning where none can be found." Existential nihilists claim that, to be honest, one must face the absurdity of existence, that he/she will eventually die, and that both religion and metaphysics are simply results of the fear of death.

Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existential_nihilism

  • Good answer, it may or may not be THE word OP seeks, but this is not the 'find a word forum' either. – lbf Jun 23 '18 at 13:08
  • Very true, thanks @lbf. We need to go by the description of meaning as asked by OP. – English Student Jun 23 '18 at 13:38
  • For the record ... i am opposed to 'find a word that begins with x' or 'sounds like y on EL&U. – lbf Jun 23 '18 at 14:20
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    Yes indeed ELU isn't the place for that @lbf. What OP did right was to give a very clear meaning as well: "the world view/attitude that there is no meaning in life or meaning in anything, anything at all" -- which helps all members to think of genuine possible words and phrases, going by the meaning. – English Student Jun 23 '18 at 14:27
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Agnosticism or Atheism?

The difference between Agnostism and Atheism An agnostic is anyone who doesn't claim to know whether any gods exist or not. This is also an uncomplicated idea, but it may be as misunderstood as atheism.

One major problem is that atheism and agnosticism both deal with questions regarding the existence of gods. Whereas atheism involves what a person does or does not believe, agnosticism involves what a person does or does not know. Belief and knowledge are related but nevertheless separate issues.

There's a simple test to tell if one is an agnostic or not. Do you know for sure if any gods exist? If so, then you're not an agnostic, but an atheist. Do you know for sure that gods do not or even cannot exist? If so, then you're not an agnostic, but an atheist.

  • While that may be the perception, it's not necessarily supported by fact: "other research has shown that the irreligious do not experience deficits in meaning in life" (source). – Laurel Jun 23 '18 at 6:02
  • These philosophical terms are related to knowledge. I am not sure that agnosticism or atheism is in any way related to meaning @Laurel. – English Student Jun 23 '18 at 6:05
  • @Laurel, I'm not saying I agree with the words, or definitions, I'm simply offering words that may or may not be what OP is trying to remember. – Robyn Simpson Jun 23 '18 at 6:11
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Robin Simpson and English student have both given good answers to your question.

There is a third way, argued by the logical positivists in the second quarter of the last century. According to philosophers like AJ Ayer, claims that attribute meaning to life are category errors. They decline to assert or deny that life is meaning. Meaning is a property of signs and language. ‘Life’ has a meaning only as a word looked up in a dictionary.

We can, in a metaphorical sort of way talk about a particular person’s life as being happy, unsuccessful, even without purpose. But in those cases all we are saying is that the person was happy for most of the time, or as often as not failed to achieve his/her aims, or was idle and passive. But the happiness, lack of success or of purpose was a property of the person not of an entity called ‘life’.

This has nothing to do with nihilism, agnosticism or atheism (although logical positivists find it very difficult to believe in divine beings). There is nothing depressing or despairing about it. They saw/see themselves as doing no more than pointing out a human blunder, leading, as often as not, to anxiety and disappointment.

The bird singing outside my window is enough. It does not need something called ‘meaning’ to give me delight. And the delight itself does not need meaning in order to be significant. It is enough for now.

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